Monday, February 6, 2012

Interview: 10 w/ Taff and Manly Artist Jason Chalker

While attending conventions and art shows, I'm humbled by the opportunity to meet exceptional artists who I have great adoration for. Luckily, these folks are kind to me and humor me at every show. They remember my name and aren't to fussy when I pick their brain, and I in turn add another piece of their work to my home.

I met Jason Chalker at a convention in 2010 and purchased a small *Mars Attacks* print from him. after that encounter, I sought out his work and purchased more *Manly Art*, including a *Velma Dinkly/ Casper the Ghost* print and my personal favorite his "Forbidden Love" robot print. Being a fan of art, it makes me happy to spread the word about an artist, especially one from my home town.

TD - Please tell the readers of AlienBee a little bit about the yourself, the manly man, that is behind the illustration of Jason Chalker. Cue the voice of the Dating Game announcer:
JC - Jason is a 43 year old Libra who likes to make art when he isn't enjoying baked goods or hobbling around from old football/rugby injuries. Although the previous sentence paints a pretty picture, I'm sorry ladies, this manly manly man of a man is taken! Jason was an animator on the Warner Independent film "A Scanner Darkly" and can often be seen in the wild in his natural habitat behind a table at a comic book convention. He enjoys, drawing, painting, customizing vinyl toys, watching movies, reading books and making an ass of himself in online interviews. Jason currently lives in Dallas, TX with his lovely wife Lisa and their two guinea pigs, Chewie and Pierre.

TD - Your work has a throwback 'Pulp and Noir" look that I totally appreciate. Did you grow up reading a lot of Pulp style books? If so, what is one of the earliest books you can remember reading as a youngling that may have influenced you as an adult?
JC - It's weird, growing up I didn't really read much pulp stuff. I guess the earliest thing I remember being drawn to was the paperback copy of Thunderball my dad had with that great Robert McGinnis cover. When you're a 7 or 8 year old kid in the '70's, that's some pretty eye opening stuff! I think the old Jonny Quest cartoons did a pretty good job of putting the pulp sensibility in my head. Action, adventure, super scientists, villains... it was great!I think the pulp bug really bit me in my 30's. My father was in World War II and I started getting really fascinated by that era. I have his scrapbook from when he was stationed on Guam. It was a different world back then. One of the things that stemmed from that era were the men's adventure magazines. As I started discovering that stuff I was hooked. The cover art is really fantastic. There were all these guys who did this amazing action art that I'd never heard of. Thankfully people like Daniel Zimmer did their homework and started up Illustration Magazine. Because of that, I've been able to put a lot of names with art I love. What's funny is I started realizing that a lot of the old pulp artists ended up doing a lot of trading card art. Norm Saunders did all of the original Mars Attacks cards and a good chunk of the original Wacky Packages stickers in addition to about a billion pulp covers.

TD - One of my most favorite prints that I have purchased from you is the 'Forbidden Love", a sort of mash up between Robbie and Rosie the robots. How'd you'd bring these two subjects together? Do you plan on doing more?
JC - Awww, I'm glad you like it! Honestly, I just thought it would be fun for Rosie to be having this torrid affair with another robot. And what better robot lover than Robbie, the Fabio of the robot world! When I was was working out the concept for this piece, I had a lot of ideas. So, yes, there will probably be another print or two in this vein. 
On a side note, this piece was accepted into this years Spectrum 18 publication!  ( I couldn't have been more surprised if I'd woken up with my head sewn to the carpet!

TD - Okay so you're uber talented; you do covers, poster design, and commissioned illustrations, but recently I've seen you do work with vinyl toys! How is it working in this medium and what's the process you go through to come up with these "wonderful toys"?
JC - Thank you! I really enjoy doing the custom toys. It's definitely a labor of love. It all kind kind of goes back to when I was a kid. My older brothers were model builders and of course I wanted to do what they were doing. Then Star Wars came out and I wanted to be a model maker for movies. I built a LOT of model kits growing up. When I do custom toys, it really taps into that nostalgia and it's a pretty cathartic experience. I just have fun with it. I don't worry much about if anyone will like them (even though I hope they do) and just do whatever floats my boat. That is probably why I do so many Star Wars themed customs. :)
As far as my process goes, it all depends on my mood. Sometimes I don't do any physical modifications and just see what I can do with the toy and some paint. Other times I want to take it a step or five further and really mod the toy. I really enjoy kit bashing. Kit bashing helped produce some of the most iconic spaceships in film history. They had racks and racks of model kits they would scavenge to add the fine detailing that "sold" the believability of the ship. I try and do the same thing with some of my customs. It's a lot of fun! 

TD -  I have your "space junk" trading card series with the See-Creepio being a fave; do you plan on doing any other series?
JC - I would love to, but I haven't had enough interest in them yet. If I can get enough people excited about them, the plan is to do a full 30-40 card set of standard size trading cards. Unfortunately, printing isn't cheap for that sort of thing, so I'm having to wait to do it. 
**Okay now for 5 random questions completely unrelated to your work**
TD - You travel back in time and you creep up on the 12 year old you, what's the younger you doing?
JC - I was probably: building a model kit • reading Bantha Tracks (the Star Wars fan club newsletter) • drawing • going to the movies • watching TV • playing with my dog in the back yard.
TD - I think Homer Simpson once asked a similar question, but could The Human Torch heat up a burrito so hot that he himself could not eat it?
JC - Technically, yes. If he incinerated it, there would be nothing to eat. 
TD - So one day you decide to make a time capsule, whatcha going to put in it?
JC - Star Wars trading cards. The original four part "Kingdom Come" by Alex Ross and Mark Waid. An iPhone/iPod. A couple of my prints. A vinyl toy. A Star Wars action figure. Photos from my life.

TD - If you could host a dinner and invite 3 people, fictional or non, over; who would you invite?
JC - Only 3?!?! Wow, that's tough... Brock Samson, J.R.R. Tolkien and Teddy Roosevelt. (I freeze up on these kinds of questions. Is there something wrong with me that my first choice was Brock Samson?)
TD - Which group of meddlers are the better investigators; Mystery Inc or The Speed Buggy crew?
JC - I was always a Scooby Doo fan, so Mystery Inc., hands down. However, I would love to see a full episode of Scooby Doo played by their Venture Brothers doppelgängers!

You can purchase and view jason's incredible collection by visiting his website, and shop his *manly art* by going here :

-Taffeta Darling

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